25 June 2008

New material

I know I’ve said this before, but The Persistent Itch is back! I’ve missed having the recurring surge of creativity and intellectual stimulation required for coming up with a new posts for this blog. The following ideas have been bouncing around in my head for a while, and I am now committed to start writing posts beginning with these subject.
  • World Resource Allocation

  • Who is to blame for ever increasing fuel and food costs? Bush, OPEC, speculators? No, actually the proverbial “starving child in China” and others in the developing world are “at fault” for trying live the life we in the west are accustomed to—and therefore we can’t really blame them.

  • Islam’s Last Gasp

  • Terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, refugee unrest in and around Israel, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the rise of Islamic parties in Egypt and Turkey, and even riots in France and England seem to point to a rising tide of Islamic extremism around the globe. However, I posit that this is actually fundamentalist Islam’s last gasp; an overwhelmingly young demographic in most predominantly Muslim countries are actually yearning for western products, music, and popular culture; those young people that are embracing extremist Islam are actually a tiny minority.

  • Fair Trade

  • Juan Valdez gets an extra fifty cents per bag of coffee, which is great, but if I have to pay an extra three dollar to give him this fifty cents, is is really worth it? I suspect that due to the less efficient supply chains of “sustainable, fair trade” companies, Juan gets a smaller percentage of my purchase price when I buy “fair trade.”

  • Local Food

  • For all the talk of “food miles,” I suspect that a carrot shipped 500 miles in a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer (that is packed to the roof) actually has a smaller “carbon footprint” than the carrot brought 50 miles into town by the friendly, local organic farmer in his pickup truck or box van.

  • Gift-o-marketing complex

  • Just as there may be sinister military/industrial complex convincing our leaders in the White House and Congress to buy, buy, buy expensive new weapon systems and associated goods & services, there is a very real and sinister force that is influencing (mostly) the women in our lives to buy and gift items to friends, family, and acquaintances for an ever-increasing number of holidays and special occasions. I would not be surprised that within the next generation these marketers will have convinced the women of America that it would be socially unacceptable to not exchange Arbor Day gifts among friends and family.

  • Personal investing strategies

  • They say to build wealth, start an investment account with as little as $500; while I understand the sentiment, I think it’s downright stupid with for someone with $5000 or more of credit card debt—which is most Americans.

  • Save by NOT buying at all!

  • While this concept is so obvious that I can’t imagine needing to expound on it, apparently a lot of you out there don’t understand that unless you really need/require something, in the long run you will be happier and more prosperous by delaying or even denying yourself the purchase of unnecessary goods—more of my minimalist philosophies.

On the computer front, I have a new laptop—with which I am writing this right now—the diminutive Asus eee series 900. It’s a great little computer that attracts attention wherever I go and does 90% of what I need it to do—all for just a little over $500! Despite its ultra-portable form-factor, I actually don’t drag it around with me most of the time because I have a computer in my pocket that let’s me surf the web, check my email, or jot down a note—the Apple iPhone. Thanks to Ziphone.org I didn’t have to sign up for the pricey AT&T data plan—especially since the EDGE (GPRS) data network is so slow it’s practically unusable.

Red Bank Hydro
After a nearly year-long lull in this project, the motor/generators were finally installed earlier this year, and as of 21 May 2008, we are officially making power! Unfortunately, this coincided with a drought period here in South Carolina, meaning we are only able to generate a fraction of this plants potential, and only during the peak hours of 12:00-22:00. I have been gradually designing and installing progressively more sophisticated controls; the next step is to install a water level transducer and program the PID functionality of the PLC to ride the level of the lake. YouTube video

As if blogging is not enough of a chore, I signed up for “Twitter” the micro-blogging (140 character maximum—for SMS) service. I did it only to secure http://twitter.com/froese but who knows, I might occasionally throw some status updates out there, so follow me if you have an account; in any case, I’m adding the feed to the right hand column here.